* BP was largest shareholder in New Zealand Refining
* Says cut stake as part of global portfolio review
* NZ Refining shares drop 4 pct, broader mkt edges up
(Adds BP statement, detail)
WELLINGTON, March 17 BP Plc on Friday
said it had sold around half its roughly 20-percent stake in New
Zealand Refining Company Limited for NZ$80.4 million
($56.2 million) as part of a global portfolio review.
BP was the largest shareholder in New Zealand's only oil
refiner before it sold the stock in block trade on Thursday
night at NZ$2.32 per share, stock exchange filings show, below
Thursday's closing price of NZ$2.49.
Shares in the company, which had been in a trading halt due
to the transaction, fell 4 percent to NZ$2.39 when they resumed
trading on Friday afternoon.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was up 0.2
percent on the day.
"BP regularly undertakes reviews of its assets, partnerships
and shareholdings around the world and today's transaction is
the outcome of one such global portfolio review," BP's head of
Asia-Pacific fuels Andy Holmes said in a statement.
BP did not disclose the buyer of the stake, but said in a
statement that it had retained an 10.1-percent interest in the
company, via local subsidiaries.
"BP's reduction in shareholding does not affect the existing
contractual arrangements between Refining NZ and BP, including
the processing agreement," New Zealand Refining said in a
Exxon Mobil Corp, via a subsidiary, and New
Zealand's Z Energy Ltd are the other major shareholders
in New Zealand Refining.
($1 = 1.4310 New Zealand dollars)
(Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Richard Lough and